Windows 10 Search is not very good

Published by marco on

Updated by marco on

Windows Search has been unpredictable for a long time. If you’re a MacOS user, it feels terrible. It’s an utter mystery how Windows can’t seem to find anything, even in a small pile of startup icons and control-panel entries. It’s a database of a few hundred entries, at best. Let’s see how Windows 10 fares.

I finally took the time to document my struggles to run the “Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio”. There are so many words in there. Which ones can I type to find the icon? Hint: I should be able to type a piece of any of the words to get that icon. Spoiler: I cannot.

Type ‘sql’

Let’s type SQL and see what happens.

 Type 'sql'

It finds SQL tools that I rarely or never use, but not the one I use all the time (and that I’m searching for).

Type ‘sql mana’

Ok, I’ll add “mana” to the search phrase to try to force Windows to match the icon with the word “manager” in it.

 Type 'sql mana'

This matches stuff that looks right, but its only folders, not the application icon.

Type ‘sql s’

The word following “SQL” in the icon is “server”, let’s try to trigger that.

 Type 'sql s'

Everything but the actual program I’d installed.

Type ‘sql se’

Let’s keep going.

 Type 'sql se'

Oooo, getting warmer … but still only folders.

Type ‘sql serve’

 Type 'sql serve'

Finally, after typing most of the name, I get the icon I was looking for. It’s unclear why it matched better now—all of the letters in the search phrase are in all of the other icons, as well.

Type ‘st’

That gave me an idea: how about I type letters that show up only in that icon?

 Type 'st'

Nice, Windows: You found the app with the word “Studio” in it that I use the least.

Type ‘stu’

 Type 'stu'

Ok, with one more letter, you’re getting warmer. I use Visual Studio 2017 the most. And I see that the Management Studio has shown up on the radar.

Type ‘m’

Finally, I tried typing the first letter of the first word of the application name. I got a match almost immediately.

 Type 'm'

Type ‘ma’

If I add the second letter, then I get a hit with just two letters. It’s honestly a mystery why this is a hit, but the other two-letter combinations are not.

 Type 'ma'

In conclusion, here we are with the third or fourth version of Windows 10, the newest of a line of operating systems that stretches back 3 decades. It’s 2019 and just finding an application to execute—and one made by the same company that made the operating system—is a heroic undertaking.